Use of his name for fund raising irks Steinberg

September 21, 1990|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Already outdoing their Republican opponents by about $2 million to $70,000, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's re-election campaign has formed a new fund-raising committee in the hope of getting more money from those who have already given the legal limit to Reflections, the governor's principal campaign committee.

But Mr. Schaefer's running mate, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, is unhappy that the new committee bears his name -- and his name alone. Mr. Steinberg says he is worried there could be a backlash if fund raising by the Schaefer/Steinberg campaign is viewed as "overkill."

"When any candidate raises an excessive amount of money, it creates a negative feeling with the people that can have repercussions at election time," Mr. Steinberg said. "Americans like to side with the underdog. People feel sorry for the underdog. I don't want to create sympathy for opposing candidates when I believe in my heart we're the most qualified candidates."

But Mr. Steinberg's primary complaint is that the new committee, formed just five days before the Sept. 11 party primaries, is named Citizens for Steinberg. The lieutenant governor said he does not want his own supporters contributing money now in the mistaken belief that it will go toward his expected race for governor in 1994.

Jim Smith, Governor Schaefer's campaign manager, acknowledged that the new committee was established to take contributions from individuals who have already reached the maximum allowed.

The establishment of a committee in Mr. Steinberg's name would allow a supporter who gave Mr. Schaefer the maximum $2,000 in the primary and general elections to legally funnel an additional $2,000 to the governor's campaign.

"It's a helpful way to raise funds for people who want to make contributions directly to the lieutenant governor who may have given the maximum contribution to the governor," Mr. Smith explained.

The additional money, he said, is needed primarily for Mr. Schaefer to redistribute to other candidates around the state as well as to finance his own television and radio political advertising.

"He is the incumbent governor, who is the state's Democratic Party chief and who is looked to for leadership and considerable financial help by other candidates and campaign organizations. In addition to that, he has pretty substantial advertising needs of his own," Mr. Smith said.

The campaign manager declined to say whether the governor intends to distribute more for the general election than the approximately $150,000 he doled out to other candidates during the primary, or how much will be spent on advertising, saying those decisions are secrets for competitive reasons.

Asked if he was worried the campaign could possibly raise an excessive amount of money, he said: "We have tremendous requests for financial help from Democratic candidates and state central committees, and we have a very ambitious program."

Mr. Steinberg said he was told by campaign officials in June that another committee might be formed, but he said he did not know it would be formed under his name until he received a copy of the filing in the mail from the state elections board about a week ago.

Mr. Steinberg said he told campaign officials he was a "team player" and would be glad to help raise whatever money the campaign believes is needed, but he said he has asked that the name of this particular committee be changed.

"They can call it anything they want. Deflections, Citizens for Progress, Citizens for Good Government," he said. "I just don't want people to think they are giving to me, to my future."

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